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Interview with Susie Carson, May 16, 1995 | UNCW Archives and Special Collections Online Database

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Title:
Interview with Susie Carson, May 16, 1995
Date:
May 16, 1995
Description:
The daughter of a sawmill owner, Susie Carson was born in Supply, North Carolina, in 1920. Her family moved to Southport when she was two years old. She recalls playing in Franklin Square, getting ice cream at Willy McKenzie's Store, and photographing the snowstorm of 1936, among other childhood memories. As an adult, Ms. Carson worked for lawyers E.J. Prevatte and Bunn Frink, and taught local history at Brunswick Community College.
Phys. Desc:

Interviewee: Carson, Susie Date of Interview: 5/16/1995 Series: Southport Length 51 minutes

Carson: My whole name is Susan Sellers Carson, but I'm better known as Susie or Miss Susie to most people today.

Interviewer: Did you have a middle name?

Carson: Evelyn, but I never have figured out where I got Evelyn. I know where I got Susie, but..

Interviewer: Well, where did you get Susie?

Carson: From one of my daddy's old girlfriends. He admired her so much he wanted- mama wanted to name me Harriet for her grandmother, but daddy won out. I would have been insulted, but mama was- she was eager to please daddy about everything. [Laughs]

Interviewer: And what were your parents' names?

Carson: Uhm.. my mother's name was Lydia Jane Sellers. My daddy was Craigland LeDrew Sellers. Now she was a Sellers before she were mar- was married. They were second cousins. And uhm.. I was not born in Southport; I was born at Supply, you know, about fifteen miles from here. But I got here as quick as I could.

Interviewer: Okay, and how quick was that?

Carson: I was two years old.

Interviewer: But you didn't give us the when. When were you born?

Carson: Oh, I was born in 1920, in fact May the 25th. And my birthday's coming up Thursday, so- so everybody can remember that. And uh.. my parents were not born in Southport either. Daddy was born at Supply and mama at Shallotte. And uhm.. you want- you want me to go on about daddy?

Interviewer: Yeah, what type of work did your father do?

Carson: He wa- he had a sawmill. His daddy wa- before- da- my granddaddy, Elijah, had a lumber business and daddy had a sawmill. And that in itself was how I got involved with history. Daddy was interested in historical places in Brunswick County so every Sunday afternoon he uh.. ha- just had to go and check up on the mill to see if it was still all right like he'd left it Saturday at noon. He worked until Saturday at noon, then he would stay home till Sunday afternoon and he had to go check up on things. So he would take us to all areas of Brunswick County at- at one time or another.

Interviewer: Where was the mill?

Carson: That's what I meant. He- sometimes it would be in Emperor Swamp, sometimes it- what we now know as Boiling Spring Lakes.

Interviewer: Oh, okay, they moved it around.

Carson: Yeah, and everywhere they moved it, he would tell me something interesting about that area and uh.. he'd make it a point to- you know, sometimes it was near Bolivia. He sold a lot of his lumber through Bolivia. Believe it or not, that was uh.. that was a little metropolis at one time. It- Bolivia was established in 1912 and uhm.. the railroad came through there and they had warehouse- tobacco warehouses, all kind of things. So uh.. that's where- and by the way, that's where his former girlfriend lived. See, he had really sh- he had- she ran a boardinghouse and he used to stay at Miss Susie's house. And uh.. years later I got acquainted with her, but uh.. this was before he and mama got married. And he..

Interviewer: Did you tell her you were named after her?

Carson: Yes. She- I don't remember if I did or not. She pro- I think she already did. Her name was Susie Tharp and uhm.. let's see. Getting back to daddy, he- he joined uh.. or was drafted in 1918 and he and mama got married just before he went to France. He was sent to Camp Jackson and then to France. And then he came back, I believe it was in ni- 1919 of course after the War and uh.. I was born in 1920, but uh.. a little over two years after they were married.

Interviewer: What did they use the lumber for? Was it for building houses?

Carson: Oh, yes. A lot of the houses at Fort Caswell were built from- with lumber from there. But they sold a lot of lumber here in Southport, at Fort Caswell, anywhere in the county for uh.. construction.

Interviewer: For building? Yeah, okay.

Carson: Some of it was sold in Wilmington too.

Interviewer: Yeah, 'cause a lot of the sawmills today are for the paper.

Carson: Yeah, but this was- they had just nice lumber. And a man named uh.. Woodbury, I can't remember his other name, was- was the uh.. I guess you'd say the broker. Anyway, they sold to him and Mr. Woodbury sold to others. However, the one they sold to Caswell they brought down the Lockwoods Folly River directly to Fort Caswell.

Interviewer: On barges?

Carson: Uh huh. And so that uh..

Interviewer: Well, that was good lumber because I've seen some of that over there. That's beautiful stuff, those buildings at Caswell.

Carson: Yeah, they're still there. I have a letter written by my grandmother, daddy's mama, to him in France and she wrote it on the billhead I guess you would call it, anyway where they- they got their statements. And she wrote him that he really needed to come on home ju- [laughs] and help out. This- this thing was getting too much for his daddy. [Laughs] Just like he went to France for- for vacation. And [laughs]..

Interviewer: Yeah. Enough of that Army stuff and come on home.

Carson: Yes. Well, after the War though, they- they did have to stay a little while. They didn't come home November 11th, 1918. And so while he was waiting for transport home, he got to do a little sightseeing in Switzerland and uh.. he brought some pictures. And in fact I have a souvenir spoon just about that uh.. long. Well, I collect spoons. And it just fitted in my collection real well. He got that in Switzerland. Of course, I guess it was Switzerland 'cause he was in the- it's a scene of the Alps Mountains.

Interviewer: So tell us, what was he like?

Carson: Well, let me see if I could describe my daddy. He was short and uhm.. good-natured as he could be, very quiet, but uh.. extremely dependable, real good to his family, and a hard worker. All during the Depression he worked at anything he could. Of course, in 1929 the bottom fell out of the lumber prices. He- and he'd lost his- a lot of the equipment from the mill in a fire. Some men who were on the Comstock at Southport uh.. trying to get home or trying to get back to the uhm.. ship took refuge one night in a March storm in one of the sheds at the mill. And of course one of 'em was smoking and they- they didn't do it on purpose, but uh.. they burned up all of the belts. They- they had tremendously big belts. And so he didn't have any money to- to do it again, uh.. to do it all over and he started farming with his daddy. Then af- let's see. About the time he- just about that time, the CCC camp was established in Southport out on Leonard Street, so he became a forester with them. And as soon as that closed up, he opened a little store on the waterfront at the foot of- of Howe Street to cater to uh.. char- by that time the charter boats were- had started going out of Southport so he sold uh.. little knickknacks for trips to go out fishing and then he cleaned fish.

Interviewer: This would be in the '40s, 1940s.

Carson: Yeah, the gr- yeah, uh.. the very early '40s and the very- well, I guess in the very, very late thir- late thirty- '38, '39 was probably when he started.

Interviewer: When was he born?

Carson: He was born in 1889 at Supply and mama was born in 1892 at Shallotte. Now both of them..

Interviewer: Well, he was fairly old for a soldier in the first War then.

Carson: Let's see. '89 to '90. Yeah, he was- well, he was about thirty, wasn't he, something like that? Yeah. And uh.. but let me see. There was something I was gonna..

Interviewer: So he was about thirty-one when you were born.

Carson: Yeah, uh huh, so uh.. well, both of them came from a long line of- of ancestors in Brunswick County that had come in here even before the Revolution. Uh.. mama's people came from Cape May, New Jersey, and settled between Shallotte inlet and Lockwoods Folly inlet. Daddy's people came down from Edgecombe County and they sort of spread out over the county into the Shallotte- I mean the Supply area and the Waccamaw area and around Town Creek. There were five or six brothers who just- I guess they felt like they had to populate Brunswick County so they spread all over. [Laughs]

Interviewer: Well, they did too, didn't they?

Carson: Yes. Of course, I'm related to just about everybody in the county that- that's been here a long time. But uh.. mama and daddy were second cousins on the Sellers side and uh.. that gave me a common ancestry to great-grandfather, or great-great-grandfather, whichever one it is. Uh.. and his name was Elijah. He and Anne Pickman were married in 1850. He had fought in the uh.. War of 1812. But the rest of 'em came on down from that union.

Interviewer: How long did your father live?

Carson: He lived until 1960.

Interviewer: Oh, okay.

Carson: And mama till '72.

Interviewer: Brothers and sisters?

Carson: I have one of each. My sister is Thelma Dunn, lives at Boiling Spring Lakes, and my brother is William Rydel, who lives in Live Oak, Florida. He went to Florida because he was with the Atlantic Coastline Railroad when they moved down there.

Interviewer: Oh, okay. He moved with them.

Carson: Um hmm. Yeah, he was in the real estate department with that.

Interviewer: You kind of skipped over your mother. You didn't tell us much about her. Tell us what she was like.

Carson: Oh, well, I'm writing a book about my mama.

Interviewer: Oh, okay.

Carson: She was- [laughs] I started- I actually started it on Mother's Day for- as a tribute to her. I've been collecting the material forever. She was another person that was very quiet, but she had a very stre- a strength of personality that uh.. was felt by all of the people who knew her. And I've been taking a survey to see what people thought about her, those who knew her, and invariably everybody said, "What I remember best is what a good cook she was." And then I've got lots of other things. She wanted to be a nurse, but uh.. in her day and in the hard economic times of Brunswick County there was no way she could go for training, but she became a wonderful nurse in taking care of neighbors and family and she was a nurturer. Uh.. she took in anybody that came her way and she fed everything that came her way.

Interviewer: Your sister takes after her 'cause she's quiet too.

Carson: Yes. I ta- I take after her in the cooking and the taking in everybody, but- but Thel- I guess I take after my daddy's sister more in this big mouth I have.

Interviewer: Our treasure is your mouth.

Carson: Mama was- mama was [laughs] uh.. rather shy, but uh.. she could stand her ground. I might tell you one thing about mama that'll show you that uh.. she uh.. was a very determined person. We moved to Southport in 1922 and, you know, that- the flapper era was just getting started. Mama wanted to be sure we were in town when we started school. She didn't want her kids for some reason riding a school bus. I guess it's 'cause the roads were so bad and all. She was- she was just very protective of us. So we- daddy wanted to stay at Supply, but mama wanted to move to town, so we moved to town. And I can't ever remember my daddy walking into the house without saying to one of us, "Where's your mother?" or "Where's your mama?" All of his life, I don't know whether it was a security thing or where- and he knew she was gonna be there. [Laughs] She never- she very seldom went anywhere.

Interviewer: He just wanted to know what room she was in.

Carson: Yes, I guess that's what- 'cause the- the kids would- we'd run to meet him when he came up. We could tell his footstep as he came up on the porch and we'd flock to the door to- to see him. And uh.. that's what he'd say. "Where's your mama?" [Laughs]

Interviewer: People have rituals like that and they do it every day.

Carson: Yes. I- I just love it. But I was getting back to the flapper era. Mama had hair way down here and every night she brushed it a hundred strokes and every Saturday it took nearly all day to wash it and dry it. That had to be done 'cause she couldn't go any longer without a week with all the hair she had. And she wore it in a Gibson girl style. She'd vary it. She was a very handsome woman. She was tall and uh.. of course she got s- as years went on, she got short and fat like me or I got like her. All of the women in our family are short and fat as they age. But uh.. mama was tall and uh.. well proportioned and had the most beautiful hands of anybody I've ever seen. But she got tired of taking care of that hair. She had three little kids and a husband that worked in a sawmill that had to get up at- before day and get breakfast. We- we had to have biscuits every morning and all that, so she got tired of that hair business. And so one day when he was going to work, she got two neighborhood girls to come stay with us. She went down to Mr. Packthorp's uh.. barbershop. We didn't have a beauty parlor. But Mr. Packthorp's uh.. barbershop was in the general vicinity of the- the harbor and gift shop- what is it, that harbor and gifts down here, and the uh.. Daughters of America building. And he ha- it was a big two-story building. So mama proceeded to go down there and get her hair cut. Well, when she got back home, we lived on Dry Street, when she got back home, the three kids set up a howl that wasn't their mama. And when daddy came [laughs] home, he set up a howl, but it didn't phase her.

Interviewer: How short did she cut it?

Carson: Well, just about like what I've got today. She didn't have a- a flapper hairdo. And I could have seen where he'd have gotten kind of- and she didn't wear that band across her head or anything like that. She just got it cut for comfort. Well, he had a fit and we had a fit, but pretty soon she went right on, she cooked supper, and she just uh.. we soon forgot that mom- that that wasn't our mama. And- and never did she let it get any longer than- than that that I can ever remember.

Interviewer: Not when she found out how easy it was that way.

Carson: Yes, to take care of.

Interviewer: Is the house you were born in still standing? That would be out at Supply.

Carson: Yes, but it's- it's not standing. Uh.. to get th- to get there, there's another house on the lot- daddy sold it or we- mama and daddy sold it to a man named Neil Holden, who had been a real buddy of his in World War I. And Neil was still living out there. And in later years, Neil tore it down and built a modern house. But mine was a typical farmhouse and uh.. with the front porch, you know, and two-story, but not two porches. And then it- then it had a shed- well, not a shed, but I mean it had the kitchen and dining room were attached to the house by- by uh.. a porch, typical of that day and age in the country.

Interviewer: Sure, nice houses. That's a nice design.

Carson: It is and it..

Interviewer: For this climate, it's a good design.

Carson: That's right, and you open the front door and you can see all the way back in the..

Interviewer: And the wind can blow.

Carson: Yeah. We went back one year, one crop season. Daddy made one cotton crop, but I can remember, I was about five. It was still before we started school and we had- I remember apple trees in the yard and uh.. we had chickens. I can't remember any other livestock, but uh..

Interviewer: But there was a farm that went with the house?

Carson: Oh, yes. There- it was a uh.. he farmed. He- I don't believe he raised tobacco, but I do remember the cotton 'cause someti- uh.. we moved a lot of stuff out of one of the front- what would be the parlor, we had to store it in there 'cause there was no place to store it on the farm. And uh.. I guess all of those buildings had been torn down or something after we left.

Interviewer: Well, where did you live in Southport after you moved to town?

Carson: Well, I uh.. the first house we lived in in Southport I don't remember, but I know where it was 'cause mama had told me. It's where the liquor store is now. And then we- we lived in several houses downtown, but most of the time on a hou- in a house on Dry Street near the water tank. That's where most of my memories are c- are centered.

Interviewer: And that house is still there?

Carson: Yeah.

Interviewer: Okay, well what do you remember about that?

Carson: About the house?

Interviewer: Yeah.

Carson: Well, it was..

Interviewer: You said most of your memories are with that house.

Carson: It was rather small, but times were so hard that my mother made the best use of it that she could. She uh.. she was always one to see if she could earn a little money, so she took one of the rooms and crowded us up a little bit and rented one of the rooms to two boy- two brothers who were going to school here. They were from Bolivia and they didn't have a high school in Bolivia at that time so she rented to Roderick and Homer Holden. And uhm..

Interviewer: There was a lot of that.

Carson: Yes. And these boys were the sons of Mr. Luther Holden, who was a friend of daddy's. So it was almost like being in a family and they stayed to- to go to school so that gave her a little income to help out with the..

Interviewer: Eugene Gore told us that the black kids did the same thing.

Carson: Oh, I'll bet they did. And uh..

Interviewer: Because it was the only high school. If you wanted to go to high school in Brunswick County, you had to get here somehow.

Carson: That's right. And I know several people i- well, at least I know of several people who did have to come in from outlying areas to go to school.

Interviewer: What was Southport like when you were growing up?

Carson: Well, when I- as I look back down the corridors of the past, I think it was heaven. [Laughs] It was just wonderful. It was..

Interviewer: Your parents might not have thought that.

Carson: I don't know. Uh.. they- I never heard one of 'em uh.. either one of 'em act like they were the least bit discontented. It was uh.. it was something I think Louis Newton mentioned here the- the- when he was on the tape that the neighbors took care of each- of their kids no matter where they went. Now we weren't allowed to go too far. Well, Thelma and I didn't go- do much going. William would go to the waterfront, of course, and he often helped daddy in the store. And uh.. but when we were real little, we stayed around the house and played in- we had a fenced-in yard and we had a garden and we co- we helped mama and we played and we just- there were a lot of kids on the street. And the houses were close enough together that you could sit in your porch swing and talk to the person on the next porch. And it- it was a- a good place to grow up. We- oh, and our main playground was Franklin Square. It didn't have the flowers and the tr- and the shrubs in it. They had a thick carpet of leaves from the oak trees. We'd take the yard rake, rake up uh.. leaves and make walls that we'd create a room here and a room there and we'd fix beds out of leaves and we'd take broken dishes, anything we could get and we kept house there. [Laughs]

Interviewer: It's hard to imagine the leaves that deep, but I guess they were.

Carson: It is. Oh, they were 'cause nobody ever messed with 'em. And the people- the women in town who were interested in pot plants would go down there and dig up the leaf mold in buckets and bring- take it home for their- their uh.. their plants. So we were very fortunate we lived that close. And my church of course was First uh.. was Southport Baptist. It was right there in the grove. Well, we called it the grove. [Laughs] And uh.. we loved the pump. And I can remember when uh.. people actually drove horses and carts and brought their horses there to drink water. There was a road through from Dry Street- I mean across the park from one part of Dry Street over to the other, down where the post office- yeah, yeah. There's a sidewalk there now, but at this time you could just drive through and uh.. go in toward the waterfront. And we went to- I believe you'll ask me about school so I won't go into that now, but we did love to play down there. K- other kids played baseball there and well, it was just a big Southport playground. [Laughs]

And uh.. oh, I- I might mention that uh.. the uh.. one of the nicest things about my area of town was up on Howe Street uh.. just beyond the water tank a man named Willy McKenzie had a uh.. a confectioner's shop or we called it Mr. McKenzie's store [laughs]. And he sold mostly soft fountain drinks and he had homemade ice cream that he made himself too. And when the ice cream was gone, that was it. You did- he couldn't send to Wilmington to get some more and you waited till the next time he made it. But it was so good you could almost taste it now.

Interviewer: And that building's still there.

Carson: Yes, and I hope they never tear that down. And he had some little candies about that big around wrapped up in then I guess it was tin foil. We have aluminum foil now, but it was shiny. And they called it Eat Mores and you really could eat more. But daddy would go over and get ice cream in little buckets and bring it back to the house if we didn't want to go. They didn't like for us to cross the road too much, but sometimes we went over there and got the cones. Other times we went down to Watson's Pharmacy and got cones. You could get a- an ice cream cone for a nickel. And we just uh.. that was uh.. a delightful time.

Interviewer: Well, do you know Willie McKenzie's soda fountain's still in existence in Southport?

Carson: Oh, I'm so glad. I- I wish we could restore that building.

Interviewer: But the owner won't tell anybody who has it because he doesn't want people trying to buy it from him. He's holding onto it.

Carson: Uh.. I- I think that's great. I wish he'd buy that building and let's restore it. Oh, that would be a treasure. I'm so afraid sometime it's- that it's gonna be gone. But that was a real treasure. And the kids just loved Mr. McKenzie. He was good to us and uh.. we knew he loved us. But uh.. another thing you might be interested in hearing, as we got a little bit older and uh.. mama let us out a little bit more, we got the early- not early teens, but that- well twelve, thirteen, fourteen we would go down to- on the garrison and get under that light pole that's down there and sit around the light pole and sing. We used to sing like "Harbor Lights" and uh.. all kind of songs that were on the hit parade of the time. The neighborhood children would just gather down there and usually of course in the summertime and it- as it began to get real dark, we'd go home. But that was some wonderful times just sitting.

Interviewer: Of course you had salubrious breezes.

Carson: Oh, we've had the most wonderful s- they were better than Joshua Potts' salubrious breezes. [Laughs] Yes, we sure did.

Interviewer: What was the most exciting thing that happened in Southport when you were growing up?

Carson: Well, I tried to think of the answer to that. I guess that it was in 19- about 1930 when the cruiser Raleigh came to town. It- well, at that time, we thought that uh.. that was the biggest thing that happened. We didn't know about the 4th of July festival that was to come later, but up until the- people from all over parts of the state came down here. That's the first time I was ever able to buy a hotdog or a hamburger from a vendor. And we had those at home, but not out on the street. That was exciting to me. And uh..

Interviewer: So it didn't go further up. It just stopped at Southport.

Carson: It stopped here, yes. And some of the shrimp boats and other boats would uh.. take people out to the cruiser. But I don't think- I- I can't remember ever going out to it. But uh.. we saw all of the excitement. And some of my pictures of- in the way it was I have because it showed how the- how s- crowded the streets were.

Interviewer: Yeah, well the cruiser was a big ship.

Carson: Yeah. It- it was really nice. And another exciting thing that happened to me or here, 'cause I'd never seen much snow. Dur- during my lifetime, we had not had enough snow that you could count. And in 1936 when I was a junior in high school we had a whopping snow. But that was small compared to what we had back in '89, I think it was.

Interviewer: For fifty years. Yeah, it was fifty years before the next one.

Carson: Yes, that's right. You are so right. But that was so exciting. We all went to school though.

Interviewer: Well, you walked.

Carson: But when we got there, well, there were a few people that came into town on school buses, but I guess the reason they let us out of school was they could- couldn't get in. But they told us when we got there we didn't have to go to school. And of course every last one of us went to the waterfront, ran out on the government dock to look back to town to see what the town looked like covered in that beautiful stuff. And then we- those of us who had cameras started making pic- we went home and got our cameras and started making pictures. It's a wonder we didn't mess up all the clothes we had and everything, but we stayed out in it. We'd never had snowball fights or anything like that, so we made up for lost time.

Interviewer: 1936.

Carson: That was the one I remember best. [Clears throat]

Interviewer: What adult outside of your family or teachers did you most admire?

Carson: Uh.. I g- Miss Annie Mae Woodside I guess, some of the women at my church who were so- my Sunday school teachers. Miss Annie Mae and Miss Margaret McCracken were the two that I think I admired the most. Now I- I don't know why they- I'd rather tell about one of my high school teachers that I admired.

Interviewer: Okay.

Carson: And that may be a question later.

Interviewer: Well, that's all right.

Carson: Anyway, I'd like to tell about her to- her. Sh- her name was Rita Sasser. Her husband was Superintendent of Public Welfare here. And she taught in the high school. She taught me at least three years. She taught English and French, literature, and she was the most inspirational person that I've ever known 'cause she believed in me and she wanted me to write a book. I'm just so sorry she couldn't- didn't live to s- to see that I did write a book. I wish I'd gone ahead and done it years before, but I just couldn't. But uh..

Interviewer: Well, she saw the potential maybe.

Carson: She- yes, and I did a lot of writing for her in class so uh.. she evidently could see that I could do it so I- she's still very important to me in my life. And of course, Miss Annie Mae and Miss McCracken, Miss Betty Butler, those were three important people in my life besides the family. They believed in me too. In fact, they thought I could do anything. It didn't matter what it was. If I did it, it was fine. So uh..

Interviewer: And they were right, weren't they?

Carson: Uh.. they- [laughs] they encouraged me to make speeches [laughs] so we can blame them for my being too talkative. You got to b- we got to be careful about that.

Interviewer: Did you have chores to do around the house?

Carson: Yes, I did. Mostly mine was to help with the cooking and Thelma's was to help with the uh.. washing the clothes and the dishes. And in fact, when I got married, she gave me a cookbook and it show- and- and she pasted a cartoon in the front of it showing the messiest kitchen in the world with a little girl in there saying uh.. "Stay back. I'm fixing a surprise." And every tool in the kitchen was dirty and that was the way I cooked. [Laughs]

Interviewer: What kind of toys did you have and games did you play?

Carson: Well, we had dolls of course, all sizes. Some dolls mama made; some they bought for us. And uh.. we had a little- you could get a china tea set then. I wish that I'd kept all that for- well, we could afford it, so you know they weren't expensive. Sometimes we had the tin ones and sometimes- and I say tin because I believe that's what material it was. And my brother had tin toys. He had- one I remember in particular that we all enjoyed was what we called the bucking mule. It was a little mule with a cart behind and you'd wind it up, it would buck and carry on, so.

Interviewer: Kicking ___________. Yeah, I remember.

Carson: Yeah. We loved tho- that. And uh.. we- I loved to cut paper dolls. That was my main toy was to cut paper dolls from catalogues. We didn't have the things that you go to the store and buy, the- the books, but uh.. mama would save all her catalogues. And I would bend the pie- the pieces back like that for 'em to sit down. You know, and we had- we cut out beds for 'em to sleep on and we had a good time uh.. with that.

Interviewer: Best friends. Who were your best friends?

Carson: The people I went to school with because we all uh.. the ones we went to school with we went to church with, and if they weren't at my church, they were over at the Methodist church or the Presbyterian church and we were all in school together. When some special program was going on at the Presbyterian church, we all went there. Then wherever we were having something special we all went together. And uh.. we had vacation bible school together too. We didn't have enough for each church to have its own, so we had a community vacation bible school. We had parties over in the gymnasium. I don't know how we got permission, but our adult supervisors got permission for us to have a lot of parties over in the gymnasium. Now that gymnasium was attached to the back of the Masonic Lodge and we just- in fact that's where my senior banquet was, junior/senior banquet was there.

Interviewer: What happened to that?

Carson: They took it off. I don't know why.

Interviewer: Did they move it?

Carson: I can't- I don't know. I think they just dismantled it after they got the city gym up there.

Interviewer: Yeah, the one that's behind the gallery.

Carson: Uh huh. Um hmm. Yeah.

Interviewer: Well, most of your school would have been in the old school there.

Carson: Yeah. Now I went to the- the school in- where the Franklin Square is three years. There were two wings on it so I went to 1st grade in the wing next to Brown Street- yeah, that is right. What's the- West Street, West Street. And uh.. then there was another wing back toward the Masonic building. That was my 2nd grade. And then when I was in 3rd grade, we went upstairs. And I thought that was it. I was grown. There wasn't anything- if I could go upstairs to school, then I had it made. And uh..

Interviewer: And then after that, you went over to the new school.

Carson: We went over to the brick- to the brick school and that's located where the post office is now.

Interviewer: Yeah. Have you seen the pictures that they have down in the Crow's Nest of the old school and the fire and all that on the wall?

Carson: Yes, uh huh. Yes, I have. And I still think it's sad. That burned the first year my daughter was in college. Well, I didn't get to tell you about my daughter.

Interviewer: Oh, well we haven't got to that yet.

Carson: Oh, I.. [laughs]

Interviewer: Did you attend college or go to school past high school?

Carson: Well, I didn't attend college because uh.. of financial reasons. There again, I got out in 1937 and there wasn't any way. So the high school out at Shallotte was offering what we called a business course: typing, shorthand, and bookkeeping. And I went out and stayed with my aunt part of the time and then with a Mrs. Ross in Shallotte part of the time and took that course and learned to- to type and do the other things. I thought I'd never learn shorthand, but I s- it took me about three months for it to ever make the least bit of sense, but I made it.

Interviewer: It's disappearing now, you know?

Carson: Yeah, I still can write it and uh.. I try to keep..

Interviewer: You know, the world, it's just nobody does that anymore.

Carson: Oh, yes. No, computers have made all this obsolete. But I'm glad I do that much.

Interviewer: Did you go to work right away after that?

Carson: Uh.. oh, yes. It was during the days of the m- uh.. that- that- what was it? Uh.. the Depression uh.. program. Like it wasn't the WPA, but it was the National Youth Recovery Act anyway, it was the NYRA. I went to work under that in one of the county offices, the Welfare Department, which was upstairs in the- believe it or not, it had three rooms upstairs in the old Hood Building that burned recently, just three rooms. And we ran everything from there.

Interviewer: That particular office?

Carson: Yeah, that was the Welfare Department. It was in the back of the building. In the front of the building they had the Health Department [laughs] and the uh.. home demonstration agent. There were three rooms up there. So we had three departments in that one- on that one floor. It's unbelievable when you think you got to have two or three buildings for each department now.

Interviewer: Yeah. Of course, we have a lot more people now.

Carson: But- oh, yes. But while I was working there, uh.. the law firm of Taylor and Prevatte needed a secretary and somebody had told them about me and so Mr. Prevatte came over to see if I would come to work for him and offered me more money, so I did. And..

Interviewer: What year was that?

Carson: That was 1940, I believe.

Interviewer: Okay, before the U.S. got into the War.

Carson: Yeah. Yeah, it was before the War, yeah.

Interviewer: And who was your boss and I guess that was Mr. Prevatte. So.

Carson: The first one though he- I got uh.. Mr. Taylor was my first one. Well, he was just grand. He was a very courtly gentleman, very intelligent. I just looked up to him a whole lot and to his wife. His wife had been-- oh, I forgot about her. She was very influential in my life, Miss Jessie Taylor. She taught me to do public speaking, then she coached me when I did recitations and declamations, that kind of thing. So uh.. she was very close to me. And Mr. Taylor was very, very history-minded so he took somebody that was inclined that way and introduced me to a whole new world of history. We did get some work done, but we spent a lot of time on history. And he had collected a lot of things and uh.. he would share that with me and tell me so many things. And uh.. I think in writing my book I mention some of the things that he had shared with me. And then he died and his partner was E.J. Prevatte and so I just automatically started.. I worked for both of 'em part of the time and we had another secretary there. But after Mr. Taylor died, I just stayed on with Mr. Prevatte until I got married. And uh.. I was- was gone for a while and then I came back to work for him. [Clears throat]

Interviewer: Well, let's see. I guess that's the next thing.

Carson: Well, uh.. I left out one thing about my work. I did work for- when I came back after the birth of my child, Mr. Prevatte had a secretary and so I was just working part-time. And Bunn Frink, everybody knows Bunn Frink, had an opening. His secretary got married and left so I went to- to work as his secretary. But he and Mr. Prevatte worked very closely together, although they weren't partners, so I s- essentially I worked for Mr. Prevatte all the time, but I was with Bunn about seventeen years and then I came back with Mr. Prevatte 'cause they formed a partnership later on. So it was- and every time that Bunn had a Supreme Court case, he didn't like to mess with research and all, he'd say, "Susie, go get Jim [laughs] to do this." So Mr. Prevatte did the- the big uh.. Court of Appeals cases and all. Bunn was the best courtroom lawyer, though, that's ever been. He- he was the flamboyant one who could sway the jury, especially in criminal cases. That was his big forte.

Interviewer: How long did you work with them?

Carson: Ei- one or the other?

Interviewer: Yeah, for one or the other?

Carson: Until- well, fifty-three years total. And I'm still going back every day- every once- I went today to balance the checkbook. [Laughs]

Interviewer: So you sort of retired at the same time that E.J. Prevatte retired.

Carson: Yes.

Interviewer: Yes, okay. Since he didn't really retire, neither did you.

Carson: No, we didn't retire.

Interviewer: So I guess the question here about what have you done since retiring is "everything."

Carson: I- I pitched in and got to do so- I always wanted to be a schoolteacher and since I couldn't go to- to college, I had to content myself with teaching uh.. just Sunday school and- and women's work. I did a lot of study courses. But uh.. since I retired, no even before I retired, when I was working part-time I started teaching local history at Brunswick Community College and that opened up a whole new world. I loved that. That was just wonderful. I made some of the best friends, met the most interesting people.

Interviewer: Well, let's see, back to when you married. Tell us about that.

Carson: Uhm.. I was married right after V- VE Day 'cause that was in May and then in July- July the 10th after that I got married. And we moved to Washington and we stayed about a year- no, not quite a year, and moved back to Southport. But it was a wartime marriage and I had- really our courtship was mostly on paper. We had writ- uh.. we nev- we didn't know each other real well and so by the time our child was five months old, he had departed. And uh.. eventually I got a divorce.

Interviewer: Yeah. What was his name?

Carson: His name was Robert Carson.

Interviewer: And where did you meet him?

Carson: I met him in Southport, but he was from Indianapolis. He was stationed at Fort Bragg and my brother was too, so he brought him home one weekend and I met him that way. But uh.. his home was really in Indianapolis.

Interviewer: Well, you mentioned your child, so tell us about her.

Carson: Oh, I'm real proud of her. She was uh.. born in 1948 and she went to- she..

Interviewer: Name?

Carson: Oh, Catherine Elizabeth Carson. She's now- she's married to a real nice guy named Arnold Calvinson. And I just- he's been the best kind of son-in-law. He's so good to me. So she went on to- after she got out of high school here, she went to Wilmington. It was Wilmington College then, but it became the university before she got her diploma so she could claim to be- graduated from university. She- when she got out in '76, we were in a recession. That seems to be the story of my life [laughs]. And there wasn't much way for her to uh.. do anything else and she had uh.. just a basic four-year degree. And everywhere she'd go for a job, they said, "You're overqualified." There- there wasn't any jobs. So she got a job as uh.. I presume a receptionist or something with the Harrison Typewriter Company in Wilmington and worked a few years there and uh.. until she got a job in the library at Bolivia Elementary School. But s- there again, she- she had to go in as a teacher's aide type so she wasn't making any money. And the woman she was working with was named Janet, but I can't remember her other name now.

Interviewer: And I'll bet her degree is in history, isn't it?

Carson: Well, she was- yeah- no, she was- it turned out- uh.. she was going to get a degree in history, but uhm.. thinking that she might get to work with the Department of Archives in history because she had worked at Brunswick Town in her- all of her free time, but uh.. there wasn't any openings there so uh.. she decided that she would switch to English. And uh.. let's see. Where did I get to? Oh, she went to work at the library at Bolivia and the girl- the woman who was the librarian said, "You're wasting your time. You ought to go back to college and get a degree in li- in library science. You'd be perfect for this." "I can't afford to do it." "Yes, you can. You just borrow the money and go." So that's what we did. Uh.. we borrowed the money, she went to Chapel Hill for two years and got a master of library science degree and she's- then sh- uh.. there was an opening in uh.. the Salisbury State University in Salisbury, Maryland. She was interviewed for that, got the job, and she's been there ever since and now she's head of the reference section. And uhm.. I presume she'll probably stay there. She'd like to be on the other side of the Chesapeake if she could, but uh.. it uh.. it's worked out real well though. And if she hadn't gone to work there, she wouldn't have met Arnold. She- she found him at the library. He was getting a master's. [Laughs] Yeah, he was getting a master's in military history.

Interviewer: Oh, so he was checking out a book.

Carson: Yes. And she used to say, "Well, mama, there's a man hanging- that hangs around this desk all the time." And the next thing I knew, he'd called her every time she came home every night, and first thing I knew, they were getting married. But I said, "You do get some wonderful things in the library." [Laughs]

Interviewer: He's retired military, isn't he?

Carson: Yes, he's retired military. He was hurt in Vietnam. He was a photographer and uh.. so he's retired, but uh.. since then he got his master's degree and he got uh.. teaching certification too. So right now he's teaching in the s..

Interviewer: At the university?

Carson: No, at public schools in- in their uh.. in one of the counties. I can't remember which one. Wicomico I think.

Interviewer: Well, let's see. What did we skip over here?

Carson: Well, I told you about my- I told you about my ancestors. And uh.. let's see. I have little uh.. I think uh.. I think that about covers.

Interviewer: Well, you want to take a rest and come back again?

Carson: Well, I- I di- I think we better stop this tape. [Laughs]

Interviewer: Okay, that's what I mean.

Carson: Yes.

Interviewer: Let's stop this tape and we'll get you back again.

Carson: And I'll- maybe we can uhm.. tell something of the specific things that happened.

Interviewer: Yeah, 'cause I think what would be interesting would be we'd need some more for Mr. Prevatte.

Carson: That- I started to say, I could tell you how the..

Interviewer: I would certainly need some more about the law business.

Carson: Yes, and uh..

Interviewer: Your fifty years in the law business.

Carson: Yeah, and I'd like to tell about the courthouse and how all the offices were there and who was working there and all.

Interviewer: And I think Bunn Frink needs some time too.

Carson: Bunn Frink died.

Interviewer: I know.

Carson: That- that- oh, you mean to tell about him? Oh yes, I can- I love to tell about Bunn. He's a most interesting character.

Interviewer: Well, let's leave it at that then and we'll get you back.

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